The destruction of heritage in Lagos

VIEWED from the old colonial prison nearby, the former ministry of justice building is a pitiful sight. White sheets barely cover gaping holes in the roof and upper storey. The word “distressed” has been daubed on the lower walls. “It’s going to collapse very soon,” says Theo Lawson, an architect who put up the sheets with a group of friends in March in an effort to keep the rain from files abandoned there. But they were ordered out by security guards before they could move the documents to somewhere safer. The fate of the building, once the colonial government’s secretariat, is uncertain.

Mr Lawson’s transformation of Her Majesty’s Broad Street Prison has been more successful. It is now Freedom Park, a leafy space amid the Lagos hubbub used for concerts, plays and art exhibitions. A stage stands on the site of the gallows, and food stalls where the prison kitchens were. A bar called “Esther’s Revenge” has been named after a famous inmate who stabbed her British lover in a jealous rage.

But places like Freedom Park are all too rare in Lagos. Much of the city’s architectural heritage is crumbling, or has been pulled down to make way for office blocks and luxury apartments. “There was a backlash post-independence,” says Ed Keazor, a historian. “We wanted to look forward.”

Now, though, it is more usually the lack of money...Continue reading

Source: Middle East and Africa

Share this

Related Posts

Next Post »